Important resumé tips for FFA members


As a high school student and FFA member, it’s very likely that at some point in the near future, you are going to need a resumé. You may need it to apply for a job, a scholarship, or a special program. It can seem impossible to write one if you haven’t worked at a “real” job yet, but there are a lot of different things you can include when you’re still new to the workforce.

A resumé is really just a list of your education, work experience, accomplishments, awards, and whatever else is relevant to what you are applying for. As you spend more time working and going to school, that list will grow, and you will have to pick and choose what stays on your resumé, but that is a problem for later.

There are tons of different kinds of resumés and each one is unique. A resumé will look different for someone applying for a job in a vet’s office than someone applying for a welding program. While the content may be similar, the way you present the information is different for each job, depending on what you want to highlight to look best for that job’s hiring manager.

» Related: How to bring your FFA experience to your resume

Regardless of what you’re applying for, every student’s resumé needs three things: Your name at the top of the page, your contact information, and clear, easy-to-read section headings, namely Education, Work Experience, and Leadership Experience.

Your name should be the biggest thing at the very top, and its should be something that catches the eye. If the rest of your resumé is in size 12 font, your name should be in size 30.

Next is your contact information. You should have an email address that is easy to say and type, and is “professional.” The email address you cam up with back in elementary school is probably not the best to put on paper. A good rule of thumb is to include your last name, maybe a period or a hyphen, and a short combination of numbers you can remember easily. If you are comfortable putting your phone number on your resumé, that is good information to include, too.

Under Education, you should list the name of your school and when you are expected to graduate. You can also put your GPA, but you don’t really have to. If you have taken any college classes, put that here. Include the school name, the class name, and the year you completed the class. This is a good place to include your clubs and extracurricular activities, like FFA, baseball, National Honor Society, or marching band.

Meeker FFA
Image courtesy of Oklahoma FFA Association

Work Experience is exactly what it sounds like. List the places you have been employed, what your position or title was, and your start date to end date. List them in the order of most recent to oldest, with your current or most recent job at the top. Include a few bullet points about what you did and some of your responsibilities.

Now I know what you may be thinking. Working the front desk at a flower shop on the weekends doesn’t have any responsibilities worth putting on a resumé. That is where you would be wrong. You didn’t answer the phone and take orders; you facilitated customer service interactions, both over the phone and in person, to ensure customers received their deliveries in a timely, efficient manner. Did you sweep the floor and keep the coffee station stocked, or did you maintain a clean and comfortable retail environment, improving customer satisfaction? Use strong verbs at the beginning of your bullet points and follow it up with the result of your actions.

If you don’t have much work experience and are struggling to find ways to make that list significant, add a section called Soft Skills and list some of your non-technical talents. Listening, problem-solving, adaptability, public speaking, teamwork, and communication are good examples. You can also write out a Technical Skills section, where you can put any specific computer programs you are knowledgeable in, languages you are at least conversational in, or certifications you have.

Leadership Experience is a great place to put in any example of a time where you were at the head of a group. Were you an officer in your FFA chapter? Or the chair of a committee in your class? Use this section to show your initiative, and give the person reading your resume a reason to ask you questions, and want to know more.

If the page is still looking a little thin, a section for Volunteer Experience is a great way to show your care about others and are motivated to work. The good news for you is that FFA is full of volunteer opportunities that you have access to. Or add an Awards section with any significant achievements.

There are a few things not to include on your first resumé:

  • Do not use emojis, icons, or photos.
  • Do not try to get too fancy with it – that will distract from the information you want the person reading it to know.
  • Skip any slang or abbreviations.
  • No swearing.

Once you have your resumé written, take it to a trusted adult and ask them to look over it. They will likely recommend some changes and make some suggestions. Show it to lots of different adults and get as many opinions as you can, and take their advice to heart, especially if you hear the same advice more than once.

Remember, this is one piece of paper that is meant to make you look good. So take your time, be specific about what you include, and ask for help if you need it.

For the record, there are some professions that require a very specific kind of resumé — way too many to be listed here — so be sure to always do a quick internet search to compare yours against others in that profession.

Jessy Woodworth is a graduate of The Ohio State University, where she studied agricultural communication and animal sciences.

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